The Child of James Melville.Born July 9, 1586—Died about January, 1588

Dublin Core


The Child of James Melville. Born July 9, 1586—Died about January, 1588


"This page, if thou wilt be a pater (parent-father) that reads it, thou wilt apardone me; if nocht, suspend thy censure till thou be a father, as said the grave Lacemaemonian Agesilaus." -Autobiography of James Melville.

One time—my soul was pierced as with a sword—

Contending still with man untaught and wild—

When He who to the Prophet lent his gourd,

Gave me the solace of a pleasant child!

A summer gift—my precious flower was given—

A very summer fragrance was its life;

Its clear eyes soothed me as the blue of Heaven,

When home I turned, a weary man of strife!

With unformed laughter, musically sweet,

How soon the wakening babe would met my kiss;

With outstretched arms, its care-wrought father greet—

Oh! in the desert what a spring was this!

A few short months it blossomed near my heart—

A few short months—else toilsome all and sad,

But that home solace nerved me for my part,

And of the babe I was exceeding glad!

Alas! my pretty bud, scare formed, was dying—

(The Prophet's gourd, it withered in a night!)

And He who gave me all—my heart's pulse trying—

Took gently home the child of my delight!

Not rudely called, not suddenly its perished,

But gradually faded from our love away,

As if, still, secret dews, its life that cherished,

Were drop by drop withheld, and day by day!

My blessed Master saved me from repining,

So tenderly he used me for his own;

So beautiful he made by babe's declining,

Its dying blessed me as its birth had done!

And daily to my board at noon and even,

Our fading flower I bade his mother bring,

That we might commune of our rest in Heaven,

Gazing the while on death, without ts sting!

And of the ransom for that baby paid—

So very sweet at times our converse seemed,

That the sure truth—of grief and gladness made

Our little lamb—by God's own Lamb redeemed!

There were two milk-white doves—my wife had nourished,

And I too loved, erewhile, at times to stand,

Marking how each the other fondly cherished—

And fed them from my baby's dimpled hand.

So tame they grew, that, to his cradl flying,

Full oft they cooed him to his noontide rest;

And, to the murmurs of his sleep replying,

Crept gently in, and nestled in his breast!

'Twas a fair sight—the snow-pale infant sleeping,

So fondly guardianed by those creatures mild;

Watch o'er his closed eyes their bright eyes keeping—
Wondrous the lov betwixt the birds and child!

Still, as he sickened, seemed the doves too dwing—

Forsook their food, and loathed their pretty play;

And on the day he died, with sad note pining,

One gentle bird would not be frayed away!

His mother found it, when she rose, sad-hearted,

At early dawn, with sense of nearing ill;

And when, at last, the little spirit parted,

The dove died too, as if of its heart chill!

The other flew to meet my sad home-riding,

As with a human sorrow in its coo;

To my dead child and its dead mate then guiding,

Most pitifully plained—and parted too!

'Twas my first "hansel"* and "propine"** to Heaven!

And, as I laid my darling 'neath the sod—

Precious his comforts—once and infant given—

And offered with two turtle-doves to God!

Lays of the Kirk and Covenant.
**Earnest, pledge.




1:1, p. 4




Unattributed, “The Child of James Melville.Born July 9, 1586—Died about January, 1588,” Periodical Poets, accessed February 24, 2024,


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